In Los Angeles, even our feral cats work

Do other cities do this?

“They are the homeless of the domestic animal world — colonies of feral cats that roam residential neighborhoods and lurk around office buildings and commercial garages, scavenging for food.

“Unlike other strays that might rub up against a leg hoping for a crumb or a head rub, these felines are so unaccustomed to human contact that they dart away when people approach. Feral cats cannot be turned into house pets. When they end up in municipal shelters, they have little hope of coming out alive.

“But one animal welfare group has figured out a way to save their lives and put them to work in Los Angeles. The Working Cats program of Voice for the Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal advocacy and rescue group, has placed feral cats in a handful of police stations with rodent problems, just as the group placed cats in the rat-plagued downtown flower district several years ago — to great effect.

“Six feral cats were recently installed as ratters in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southeast Division, and another group will be housed at the Central Division early in the new year.

“Their reputation as furtive and successful exterminators grew after feral cats were introduced to the parking lot of the Wilshire Division nearly six years ago. Rats had been burrowing into the equipment bags that bicycle officers stored in outside cages; inside the facility, mice were sometimes scurrying across people’s desks.

“‘Once we got the cats, problem solved,’ said Cmdr. Kirk Albanese, a captain at the Wilshire station at the time. ‘I was almost an immediate believer.'”


“For more information on ‘working’ feral cats, go to”

LAPD enlists feral cats for rat patrol. The felines have been introduced, to great effect, at several stations with rodent problems. Parker Center may get them too. By Carla Hall, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, December 29, 2007

God bless people who think up brilliant stuff like this. They make me think better of our own species. Why can’t there be more solutions like this? I ask you. Why?

(If the LAT article is behind the registration or paywall, you can click on this: Feral Cats Mousing for a Living in LA [pdf]. Sorry, LAT, this story is too cool not to be read and you can send me a C&D if you think different. Oh, so, while I’m at it, here’s something else Los Angeles, the county this time, is getting right: Los Angeles Outdoor Gyms in Molinia’s district [pdf]. Yay!)

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3 Responses to In Los Angeles, even our feral cats work

  1. archcrone says:

    This is a wonderful idea.

    My only disagreement is that feral cats can be tamed to be house pets. I have one, and several of my friends have feral cats.

    Actually all of these cats were from behind a restaurant. My son’s and several of the cooks took months taming several of the kittens that were born in the springtime. Ours has been one of the most wonderful cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing my home (after my last cat of 19.5 years — none will ever be like Cassie).

    Thing is, taming a feral cat takes a lot of time and a huge amount of patience. Months just to be able to pick up the young cat, and several more months adjusting to human contact.

  2. Hi A! There was this in the article:

    “Garrison worked with two shelters to select the most feral cats possible. (If a cat suddenly gets friendly, the animal is pulled from the pool and, with any luck, is adopted.)”

    So if they think they can rehabilitate one of these feral kitties into a housecat, they give it their best shot. But even the ones that stay on the rat patrol get some perks in addition to being allowed to live:

    “The cats were then spayed or neutered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and ear-tipped (under anesthesia while the cats are being altered, vets notch an ear tip, the widely recognized sign that a cat is altered).”

    This is such a great idea, I can hardly believe it’s happening in LA. One small problem with the program is that there are no funds to feed the kitties once the relocation and acclimation (acclimatization?) process is over. The cops are shelling out of their own pockets, which ain’t right and can’t go on forever. So I hope the LAPD, the City, Working Cats, whoever can get that detail covered sooner than later.

    There were some nice cop quotes in the article, showing that they’re not all nut cases in the LAPD, in case anyone was wondering. I, on the other hand, never realized LA had such a serious rodent problem, but it’s a city so, even though I’ve seen the occasional rodent here in LA, I don’t know why I thought all the four-legged kind of rats lived east of the Rockies.

  3. archcrone says:

    Ahh, Ginger, I didn’t remember reading that part. Perhaps I was blinded by the part of the kitters not making it out of shelters. I just hate the thought of these kitters being put to sleep.
    HOnestly, though, I was surprised at how long it took for Kasumi (our feral cat) to get used to human company, and the other cooks that took in kitties had the same long road.
    There is a group in the area that try to catch as many feral cats as possible and spay/neuter them, and then release them back into the same area where they were caught.

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